Legislature approves compromise on pension reform
COLUMBIA — A bill reforming South Carolina’s pension systems for public workers headed Thursday to the governor’s desk, as the special legislative session wound to a close.
The House voted 88-9 and the Senate voted 43-0 on a compromise agreed to hours earlier by a six-member conference committee. The agreement is largely the Senate’s version of the bill.
“I think it’s a fabulous package,” said Sen. Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken. The retiring senator, who’s fought for pension reform for years, praised the compromise as keeping the system solvent, while being fair to workers.
Rep. Jim Merrill, who led the House panel on the issue, described it as “very, very, very good.”
“To not do retirement is unacceptable. Voters won’t accept it. The public won’t accept it. It’s really not even an option,” Merrill, R-Charleston, said in asking the House for approval.
The governor is expected to sign the legislation. In a news conference Thursday morning, she urged legislators to pass it.
Both House and Senate versions already exempted current workers from changes in benefit calculations, applying only to those hired after June 30, and allowed current employees to retire with full benefits after 28 years of work.